When choosing a career move, whether its your first job out of university or the next step on the ladder, the type of organisation you work in will make quite a difference. Different sectors are all different and each has their own culture, but the size of the organisation is a big factor as well. So far I’ve worked for companies of 6 people, about 120 people, around 2000 people, and now there’s about 18 of us at my current workplace. I have also spoken with friends with different experiences.
The advantages Larger companies tend to be better at paying overtime or booking holiday because they have systems to organise this. They are also more set up for supporting employees because there is an HR department and some policies and procedures for getting things sorted out if the need arises. They can also usually cope with people on maternity or long-term sickness leave without too much impact on the business and the other employees.
The disadvantages Large companies, certainly here in the UK, have a bit of a one-size-fits-all attitude to employees. The results tend to be silly things such as if one person is thought to be covering their poor timekeeping by changing their shift pattern a lot, the whole company will be stopped from changing their shift pattern more often than every three months, for example Each role in a large company tends to be quite well-defined and you will not find yourself outside of your job description very often.
The advantages If you like variety and hate bureacracy then a small company is for you. In small companies I have variously rewired phones, assembled furniture, cleaned kitchens, crawled on the floor, sold products and even ordered stationery. I’m a software developer by trade so that’s quite an impressive list. Whether this suits you or not is very personal; I thrive on it but its not for everyone. The other big advantage of a small company is that they tend to be quite flexible, in terms of changing job roles or working patterns. This is something to do with being quite reasonable and judging each case on its merits rather than feeling like they have to be uniformly inflexible in case anyone feels hard done by. And you can all go to the pub together on a Friday.
The disadvantages They’re the same as the advantages! There will be days where you wonder what your job specification actually is. There will be days when your flexible employer will expect you to be flexible too and you’ll be in the office 12 hours after you arrived. If you don’t get on well with a colleague then there is no getting away from them, because the organisation is so small. If you like to have an organised, well-defined job which will not bother you when you leave at the end of the day, then probably a small company may not be the right place for you.